With time running out in Oregon’s 82-68 win over Duke in the Sweet 16 on Thursday, Ducks’ star Dillon Brooks took a 30-foot 3-pointer that sank through the bottom of the bucket.
Following the shot, he turned his back, saluted emphatically, and earned a talking to from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in the process. That set off a news cycle of controversy, partially incited by Krzyzewski denying the conversation’s existence.
Friday, Oregon coach Dana Altman attempted to deflect some of the controversy away from his star player.
At a press conference for Saturday’s West Regional final between Oregon and Oklahoma, Brooks was asked what he did wrong regarding the final shot.
“At the end of the game there was a difference in the shot clock and the game clock. I told Dillon to shoot it,” Altman said. “So if anybody’s got a problem with it, it should be directed at me. He was acting on my orders. I told him to shoot it. I didn’t think he’d make it. It was a 30-footer, but there was a five, six-second difference there.”
When asked about the celebration being the problem as opposed to the shot, Altman again deflected the criticism from his player.
“If we can’t celebrate hitting the shot, then that’s part of the game,” Altman said. “Again, it was a 30-footer. He took it. It’s done, we’re moving on to Oklahoma. I hope he hits a 30-footer tomorrow; it will be great for our team.”
For his part, Brooks continued to apologize for his actions, but also noted that he didn’t necessarily believe he made a mistake.
“I didn’t feel like we did anything wrong,” Brooks said. “I just played the same game I always played. These guys rallied around me and rallied around the way I played, so I ain’t going to change. I don’t think anything went wrong.”
He also noted that the conversation probably should have stayed between he and Coach K.
“Me and Coach K, that conversation should have stayed with us,” Brooks said. “But overall me and Coach K are both professionals, and I have to move on from this situation and focus on Oklahoma.”
Brooks and Altman have handled this situation in a much stronger manner than Krzyzewski did on the dais last night, where he basically called Brooks out for being less than truthful to the media in the locker room by saying that he didn’t say anything beyond telling Brooks he’s a terrific player.
Hopefully that puts this issue to bed, as the entire circus surrounding it has taken away from what was an absolutely stellar game from Brooks and the rest of the Ducks.